Federal budget likely to boost Windsor's skilled labour
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to announce money for training in today's budget
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget should be a boost to Windsor's economy and jobless rate.
Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said the budget was a "significant step forward in terms of helping out the manufacturing sector. Something that everybody in this region will benefit from."
Francis was pleased to hear about tax relief for manufacturing and processing sectors, and a fund for advanced manufacturing.
However, Windsor economist and former professor at the University of Windsor Mark Meldrum, wanted the federal budget to focuss more directly on debt reduction.
"We hear it everyday," he said. "Cyprus. Europe. The US. Japan. The UK. Debt. We gotta deal with that."
Meldrum was in favour of new spending to help people train or re-train for the workplace.
"It's not physical capital but it's human capital," he said. "It's an investment in an asset. And if that investment creates a human capital asset that is employed longer or unemployed less...that is always a good thing. Period."
Workforce WindsorEssex recently surveyed 70 tool and mold companies and found they had close to 350 job vacancies in total. Some of those jobs have been vacant for six months.
Mike Ouellette, who works for Valiant Tool and Die and also sits on a taskforce for skilled trades shortage, said it's about time Ottawa addressed the shortage.
"That’s only a few companies. In Ontario and Canada, you can multiply that by 100," he said. "The clock is ticking. Within five years, we’ll have a shortage of 300,000 people in skilled trades. Everyone needs to play a role in it."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is expected to announce money for training in today's budget.
In a pre-budget letter to MPs, Flaherty wrote that this year's budget is focused on
- Matching skills training programs with available jobs.
- Investing more in infrastructure.
- Supporting "value-added" jobs in manufacturing.
Valiant has been training its own employees with its own money.The company has trained 116 students and retained 110 of them last few years.
"This is only a drop in the bucket," Ouellette said.
The company could use even more.
Ouellette would like to see governments do even more than offer money for training.
"They need to revamp to the school system. Some students are made for university, but to push everyone into university is wrong. The government needs to bring back vocational schools," he said.
Workforce WindsorEssex CEO Donna Marentette said the current skilled labour shortage hurts the local economy.
"Every job that's not filled costs our community money because now that person is not employed," she said. "Machines are sitting idle. Companies can't get the production out. So, they pay a penalty. It costs our community literally millions of dollars every year."
Marentette hopes that includes money to help seal the local skills gap.
"We watch and listen to every budget hoping to hear the word 'training,'" she said. "So it's really exciting to have training be headlined."